Porsche once teamed up with VW to create Germany’s first mid-engine sports car.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of one of Porsche's most underappreciated sports cars: the 914. Back in the mid-1960s, Porsche was looking to expand its lineup with a new entry-level sports car positioned below the 911 long before the Boxster was born, but didn't have the resources to create such a car on its own. At the time, Volkswagen was also planning a successor to its outdated Type 34 sports coupe. As a result, the two companies joined forces to create Germany's first mid-engine sports car.
Two versions of the car were available: the 914 with a four-cylinder engine from Volkswagen and the 914/6 with a six-cylinder engine developed by Porsche. Volkswagen's engine was a completely new design and marked the first production injection engine offered by the manufacturer. Its 1.7-liter four-cylinder engine produced 79 hp at 4,900 rpm. While it was lightweight, the performance was underwhelming: the 914 accelerated from 0-62 mph in 13 seconds and had a top speed of 110 mph.
In contrast, the 914/6 was powered by a Porsche six-cylinder engine derived from the 911 T and was designed for maximum sports performance with its overhead camshafts, triple carburettors and high-performance capacitor ignition. It was much more powerful than VW's variant, producing 108 hp at 5,800 rpm. This extra power enabled the mid-engine sports car to sprint form 0-62 mph just 8.7 seconds. With a dry weight of 1,984 pounds, or 2,072 pounds for the six-cylinder variant, the 914 boasted an impressive power-to-weight ratio.
It also spawned two special one-off 914 S models with an eight-cylinder racing engine. The three-liter boxer engine was taken from the Porsche 908 racing car, which dominated circuits throughout the 1970s. Thanks to its injection system, the first 914 S produced around 300 horsepower and was handed over to Porsche's head of development at the time, Ferdinand Piech, as a test vehicle. In the second car, the eight-cylinder engine with carburettors pumped out 260 hp. Unlike the first car, it was road legal and was presented to Ferry Porsche as a 60th birthday present. Both 914 S models had a top speed of around 155 mph.
Between 1969 and 1975, 115,631 examples of the four-cylinder 914 rolled off the production line. Most were exported to the USA where they were sold without the VW suffix. The more powerful 914/6 was much rarer, however, as only 3,338 units were produced between 1969 and 1972.
To celebrate the 914's anniversary, the Porsche Museum will host a special event on June 2 called "50 Years of the 914 – Typically Porsche." The event will be attended by over a hundred 914 owners and feature a panel hosted by experts. There will also be a display of special 914s, including the first example ever built and one of the two Porsche prototypes with an eight-cylinder racing engine.